We’ve summed up winners, losers and new MPs to watch following the UK’s general election. The Conservatives retain the most MPs, but they’re short of a majority as Labour, the Lib Dems and the DUP make gains. Watch this space…
Text by Zack King, Account Director, Madano Built Environment Practice, and Matthew Dolman, Senior Account Executive, Madano Energy Practice. Graphics by Iona Duckworth, Graphic Designer, Madano Creative Practice.
Government may not seem like the most obvious source for lessons in marketing technology. The pace at which new tools and platforms are developed and adopted in this space would seem in stark contrast to the often plodding and risk-averse focus of government-funding activities – which it’s often argued would benefit from a more business-like mind-set.
During Donald Trump’s election victory speech in November – the US President with conversely the most business knowledge and least political experience in history – promised:
“I’ve spent my entire life and business looking at the untapped potential in projects and in people all over the world. That is now what I want to do for our country.”
By contrast, on the other side of the pond in the UK, the two main party leaders in this year’s General Election have a combined 54 years in elected office. Incumbent Theresa May’s catchphrase of ‘strong and stable leadership’ is so antithetical to both Trump’s braggadociousness and the reality of his first five months in office, it’s a wonder she didn’t just go for ‘Make Britain about the same again’.
As the US President learns his own lessons about the separation of business and state, I thought I’d share some ideas from Madano’s experiences working for Government and the rigour of thinking that often lies behind policies.
Good policies start with a need first – an audience with challenges that need to be overcome. That need should be very clearly articulated, as policies or programmes must be developed in a logical and evidence-based way to address these needs. Knowing what you want audiences to think, feel and do (beyond buying a product or service) should be the starting point of all good marketing – yet it’s very often an afterthought.
A theory of change
The principles behind the ‘marketing funnel’ – the firm business favourite for thinking about behaviour change – were first published in 1898. A mere 26 years later, the funnel itself was added to these principles, and after that, everyone decided that no more thought was needed.
In contrast, because the public sector is inherently working with multiple competing and intractable outcomes, more sophisticated ways to link our actions to results have been developed. The ‘theory of change’ approach used across the public sector and social enterprises is about working back from your ultimate goal to identify the intermediate outcomes behind them. In a way, it’s a like a bespoke funnel – one that takes into account all the different audiences, channels and the range of outcomes that are likely that can be attributed to a given set of actions. This means that you can’t assume that some undetermined magic will happen to make your actions a success (which seems to be the assumption of a lot of ‘influencer marketing’).
Finding the right things to measure
The challenge that currently faces marketing technology is definitely not an inability to measure – but instead lie in finding the ‘right’ things to measure. Obviously, activity metrics – such as how much you spent and how many impressions you generated – are easiest to collect and understand, and heavily embedded in PR. But measuring the right outcomes (not just the ones that measure what you’ve done, but the ones that measure the difference it has made) mean you’ve really done the thinking about what you’re trying to achieve.
One of the elephants in the room of marketing technology is that paid channels provide their own rules by which you measure how good they are. Many of these tools are still great for understanding outcomes – Google’s attribution modelling, for example, can provide an opportunity to tie a range of outcomes (or ‘touchpoints’) to sales conversion. However, if you haven’t done the thinking about what your outcomes should look like, you’re letting someone else determine what your focus should be.
Government doesn’t always get it right – but when you have to justify beyond the bottom line, you’re forced to look more closely at how to articulate and demonstrate the link between what you’ve done and the impact you’ve created. That’s how we should get called to account for what we’ve done – and our political leaders too.
The consequences are potentially huge. The Paris Agreement was signed by 195 nations, binding the world community together in tackling the damage being done to the climate and environment by spiralling global temperature rises. Although the US agreed to only fairly modest targets by global standards, the departure of the world’s largest economy from the deal is sure to cause a major headache for advocates of concerted global action on climate change.
For me, one of the most significant aspects of the matter is that Trump is acting to fulfil a promise he made during a highly charged election campaign. He said he would do something and he’s done it. Agree with him or not on the decision, at least you can say he tackled an issue he felt strongly about head-on.
Not only that, but Trump is moving in a direction that all data, evidence and scientific wisdom should tell him is wrong. That has significant ramifications for communications practitioners.
Trump has framed this issue as being about protecting coal jobs and putting America first, so he probably believes he’s doing the right thing. Announcing his decision, Trump told America that he was elected to serve the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris (though even the Mayor of Pittsburgh has come out against Trump’s stance).
This is an extension of his ‘America First’ energy policy, but as most people in the energy sector know this goes against masses of evidence that the rapid expansion of renewable energy is real and increasingly cost-competitive with coal and other fossil fuels.
That’s important, because we commonly assume that communications strategies should be developed more and more using better data collection and improved analysis. For the US President to ignore the data and make a huge decision like this shows that gut decisions and emotions are still as important as they ever have been.
Actually, this isn’t a surprise. There’s a revealing Trump quote on page 58 of a 1987 issue of New York Magazine, where he talks about the lesson he learned from having narrowly avoided losing $50 million on an investment in the oil & gas sector that on paper sounded like a great opportunity:
“That experience has taught me a few things. One is to listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper.”
The important thing to remember is that communications is always about both the rational and the emotional. The rational side of the brain is driven by data and facts and it’s vital that businesses invest in insights-led campaigns that get to the root of solving problems and challenges in all sectors. But on this issue, Trump clearly had a stronger emotional reaction based on his preconceived ideas of the state of America, one that all the data in the world couldn’t change.
What does this mean for communications professionals? Ultimately, when trying to solve an issue or make a big decision, it’s crucial to frame the issue and appeal to the emotional core of your audience, even if the topic in question appears to you to be totally fact-based and objective. To influence busy and confident leaders – whether they run a business, a not for profit or indeed one of the world’s superpowers – showing numbers and clever algorithms just doesn’t cut it sometimes. The old-fashioned gut feeling is still as powerful in communications as it ever has been.
Madano’s dedicated Energy and Insights practices are specialists in developing strategies where communications are critical to success. We use in-depth knowledge and data-driven insights to create a compelling, integrated communications offering that makes a tangible difference to your organisation.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.